by Alyssa Robinson
I am an introvert. If you’ve met me, that might be a surprise to you because I’ve been told I exude confidence and come off as an outgoing, outspoken person. It took me a while to figure out I’m an introvert. Stereotypical descriptions paint introverts as shy, quiet wallflowers who would rather fade into the background than socialize, and that’s not me at all
Here are some of the things that helped me realize I’m an introvert:
- I prefer being in groups of less than 5 people where we can have in-depth conversation.
- Being in large groups of people, like a party, special event, or even worship, completely zaps my energy.
- It’s really difficult for me to maintain small talk. I’m very awkward with basic catching up or surface-level conversations.
- I don’t feel lonely or disconnected when I’m alone. I can stay in my house alone for days simply enjoying my hobbies.
I have the ability to do extroverted things, but when I’m done being out or socializing, I need to take time alone to recover. Sometimes I genuinely wonder how being in community benefits me when it steals so much of my energy.
As I mentioned, even when it comes to worship, I struggle. In the span of one hour I could potentially be in an environment with 100 people, say hello or wave to 30 different people, and have small talk with 5-10 different people. Sometimes I’m using so much energy to be present and connect with others, it’s difficult for me to have an attitude of worship. Every Sunday afternoon includes a nap because Sunday mornings are so exhausting. Can anyone else relate?
How can I feed into the community when it leaves me so exhausted? Do I really need community?
Don't forget to listen to this week's episode of the Life + God Podcast! Alyssa talks with Rev. Karen Chraska and Aaron Willis about what a church community should feel like. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Before Pastor Nick McRae was appointed to First United Methodist Church in Forney, I expressed this concern to him. I told him that it felt like everything Jesus was asking us to do was geared toward the extrovert. After all, the Great Commission says:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
That sounds like an extrovert’s dream. I told Nick that I felt like I was constantly failing in the community-building to which Jesus called us because I don’t feel comfortable socializing in big groups or talking about God with people I don’t know. And Nick asked me, “What makes you think it’s only referring to people you don’t know?”
I had put so much pressure on myself to build a community outside of my current friends, family, and coworkers that I didn’t even consider them as part of the Kingdom building. It’s so silly now that I reflect on it. Nick described to me some of the times that he, even as a pastor, needed his friends to bring the good news of the Gospels to him.
Side note: There are plenty of examples of Jesus being an introvert in scripture. Check out Matthew 5:1, Matthew 14:13, and Matthew 17:1. These are just a few times Jesus needed to remove himself from the large crowds and have quiet time. This gives me hope!
When we look to community building at Trietsch, we have embraced the following clear vision statement:
We envision a community where:
Brokenness is Healed,
and Love is Lived
As an introvert, I can easily get overwhelmed by the idea of expanding my community. But this statement reminds me that God is calling each of us to start building community by loving where we live. Do I make the people I love feel like their lives matter to God and to me? Do I help them feel God’s eternal hope for healing? Do they know without a doubt that they are loved by me? Do I show my love through my actions?
When I take a look at my life, it's easy to see all the beautiful ways in which I’ve received community. I know without a doubt that I matter to God and to my loved ones. My brokenness has been healed as I was nurtured by my community through some of my most difficult experiences. Love is alive for me almost every day. My dad helps me daily by taking care of my dogs while I’m at work. My friends and my partner send me texts throughout the day letting me know I’m loved. And even as I write this, my boss Tammy stopped in to bring me lunch without even asking if I was hungry.
Community is beautiful and nourishing. Every single person deserves to feel God’s unconditional love. I want to be part of God’s growing community of love!
Whether or not I feel like I need community starts to feel irrelevant when I think in these terms. The community needs me, and our community needs you, too. Start by looking at the people in your immediate circle. How can you better love the people you are living in a community with every day?